My Racing Richard Hannon Yard Tour
However bad some days may feel, when you arrive at a racing yard invited and the sun is shining there are few if any places I would rather be, I promise you.
One Wednesday morning I was lucky enough to be invited to the Richard Hannon yard in Wiltshire by Newbury racecourse ahead of the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes at the track on the 16th may – three weeks or so away.
Leaving bright and early I had enough time to wake up before arriving and am I glad I did– what an amazing establishment, pure class from corner to corner with no expense spared to provide the very best for both horses and guests, and I have to add that we were well looked after via coffee (needed) and Danish pastries (certainly not needed, but eaten regardless). After a brief period milling around with my fellow journalists and the much more pushy photographers, we all bundled in to the 4×4’s to drive off to one of the gallops to see some of their horses put through their paces. After finding my spot and setting up with ross Mitchell who takes my photos, we were called back to the cars two minutes later and rushed off to meet the horses again on the other gallops – that had recently been re laid at a cost of over £200,000! After watching the three we were there to see, some of the two year olds came along, colts first and fillies following, after which we went back to the offices and the paddock and discussed their chances in the day and weeks ahead – and this is what we learned…….
Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes, Newbury 16th May.
His three horses are all on target for a possible tilt at this highly valuable prize (upped by almost 75% to a massive £350,000 this year), and as the stable took the race last season with Olympic Glory, their runners need plenty of respect in 2015.
First up we have Shifting Power who I mention bright and early as a) he is the one most likely to sidestep the race and 2) he runs at Sandown on Friday afternoon. Described by his trainer as “just below top class last year” he looked well to me and I got the feeling they thought he had a very decent chance on Friday in the Bet365 Mile at 2.30pm though I am also aware that most of the stable’s runners this season seem to improve for their first outing? That said, he has filled out his frame as a four year old with that extra winter on his back, and they think he can win a Group One this season – so this Group Two may be little more than a starting point for a good year for the 2000 Guineas fourth.
Back to the Newbury race and Toormoor is next on the list, though I note the majority of his best form seems to come on going with plenty of give in it. They certainly like him a lot and he is reported to be working well, but good as he is, I got the feeling that he wasn’t the stable number one either – I just hope I didn’t misread the body language? No, I am quietly confident that if I head to Newbury and back Night Of Thunder I will not go too far wrong – and I can add that he looked an absolute picture (as did all the horses to be fair). As Richard Hannon’s first classic winner after taking the Newmarket 2000 Guineas last season at odds of 40/1 I suspect he has a soft spot for the son of Dubawi
Richard Hannon told us all that “… he appears to have retained all his ability and we are very, very pleased with him. He worked well this morning and the Al Shaqab Lockinge has always been the plan for him….”we got Olympic Glory pretty straight for the race last year and Night Of Thunder is the very same – he will take a lot of beating in the Al Shaqab Lockinge Stakes.” Now if that isn’t a hint I don’t know what is, and at the minute he’s looking the most likely candidate to be carrying my money (and the added weight of it).
Our Lockinge Stakes preview will be up in the near future but if you do want to back Night Of Thunder based on our yard he’s a best price of 6/1 with Bet365 and I can’t see that staying around for long!
As for the other horses in his care, his Guineas contenders are all in good heart and I am pretty convinced he will be double handed in the colts classic with both Estidhkaar and Ivawood, with a narrow preference I felt for the last named. Apparently he will improve an awful lot for last Saturday’s race (though I wish I had known that in advance of backing him!), and those of us who were there will not be surprised if he turns around Newbury form on the Rowley Mile at Newmarket.
Lastly the yard are renowned for their juvenile winners and I only wish I could tell you the names of some that are sure to win in the weeks ahead – but none were mentioned, so I can’t. What I can do though is give you all a bit of future work that should pay off and tell you that their better maidens will be seen in maidens at Newmarket on Guineas weekend, Newbury on Lockinge weekend, and Ascot in early May – who when how and what odds is guesswork at this stage, but those are the early targets for their Royal Ascot two year olds and remember – you read it here first!
Thank you to Sean Trivass for making the early start to provide us with this article!